Comparison of darknet markets

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A darknet market (also known as a DNM) is a website operating in a darknet (e.g., Freenet, I2P, TOR) through which goods and services (typically drugs) are traded. The legal status of the traded goods depends varies from country to country. The purpose of this comparison is to provide an overview of the constantly changing phenomenon of darknet markets. The comparison in durability, success, and security should enable people to evaluate markets and make independent decisions before using them.

The "Silk Road" (founded 2011-01-31) was the first known darknet market. With the combination of TOR, Bitcoin and PGP it established the central market scheme.

According to their major features and design, at least five archetypes of marketplaces can be distinguished.

  1. Forum Markets. These are basically forums where vendors present their products, customers post feedback and have discussions. These markets neither have an online shopping interface nor a reputation or escrow system. Trusted members of the community may act as escrow agents.
  2. Centralized Markets. The original "Silkroad" was the first of this kind. Buyers and vendors have their bitcoins in an online wallet which is controlled by the markets admin and therefore rely totally on the good will of the markets admins. Several big scams have happened in the past in which millions of dollars (in bitcoin) were stolen.
  3. Multi-Signature Markets. In this type of market, funds will be deposited in a multi-signature wallet. At least three parties (usually: buyer, vendor, market admin) have the control over these wallets. Two of them have to agree to release the funds. The most elaborate marketplace of this kind was "The Marketplace". Second generation marketplaces have yet to gain serious market share.
  4. Decentralized Markets. There are some projects which are currently developing software to host drug marketplaces in a distributed manner. As of 2017, they have yet to be adopted by the darknet market community.
  5. Beside that some vendors maintain their own single vendor web shop. These won’t be listed here because they are too numerous and there is no way of protecting against scams.Some vendor shops are listed here: https://www.deepdotweb.com/marketplace-directory/categories/vendor-shops.

All markets are hosted either as Tor Hidden Services (Onion Sites), i2p sites (eepsites) or another kind of p2p or darknet. Therefore they can not be accessed with a normal web browser. The technical aspects of using a darknet market are discussed in the darknet marketplace usage tutorial.

Forum markets

Comments-o.svg
These websites are based on ordinary forum software. There is no cart, wallet or escrow provided. Transactions usually happen directly between vendor and customer.
Name, Address Date of Opening Registration Incidents Notes
French Market Place
(http://fmp75d2wcfom3opr.onion)
 ?  ?  ? french
The Majestic Garden
(http://themgpeuawtfvbzi.onion/)
Forum
(http://bm26rwk32m7u7rec.onion/)
 ? Open No TMG is focused on psychedelics and empathogens.
RAMP (Russian Anonymous MarketPlace)
(http://ramp2bombkadwvgz.onion)
 ? Open  ? russian

Centralized markets

User.svg

All these markets have a certain concept in common. There is a staff team which is maintaining a website as an onion or eepsite in TOR or I2P. They offer all the features to vendors and buyers. They take some % of every transaction as commission for their own profit and often take a bond of vendors to prevent scammers off signin up. Their definite trait is that the admin has the absolute power over the users funds.

Name, Adress, Forum, Subreddit Date of Opening # of listings Registration 2-Factor-Authentification Java Script PGP Incidents Cryptocoins
Abraxas
(http://abraxasdegupusel.onion/)
Forum
(http://abraxasgacelesox.onion/)
Subreddit
(/r/AbraxasMarket)
2014-12-13 ~5100
Invite Only No No No No BTC, DASH
Dream Market
(http://lchudifyeqm4ldjj.onion)
Forum
(http://tmskhzavkycdupbr.onion/)
Subreddit
(?)
2013-11-15 ~6500 Open Yes No No (optional auto-encryption but site discourages users to use it for all communication) No BTC
Middle Earth
(http://mango7u3rivtwxy7.onion/)
Forum
(http://mango7u3rivtwxy7.onion/talks/)
Subreddit
-
2014-06-22 ~4300 Open Yes optional No No BTC
Nucleus Market
http://nucleuspf3izq7o6.onion/
Forum
http://z34uj4opd3tejafn.onion/
Subreddit
/r/NucleusMarket
2014-10-24 ~15000 Open Yes No No No BTC, DASH, LTC

Explanations:

Criterion Explanation
2-Factor-Authentification With 2-factor authentification, one needs to decrypt with a private PGP key. This feature avoids successful phishing of one's name and password.
Java Script Some people consider Javascript a security risk. Some sites force you to turn it off before entering their site.
PGP Is the use of PGP encryption obligatory in private messages? It typically is not, but writing unencrypted messages may expose personal details to the market admins and law enforcement agencies.
Incidents Bitcoins disappeared? Team members busted? Page hacked? Did anything happen what undermines the credibility and professionalism of the people who run the marketplace?

Multi-signature markets

Users.svg
Name, Adress, Forum, Subreddit Date of Opening # of listings Registration 2-Factor-Authentification Java Script PGP Security Incidents
Alphabay
[Alphabay has been shut down]
Subreddit
(/r/Alphabay)
2014-12-22 ~40000 Closed Yes No No Yes
East India Company[1]
(http://http://g4c35ipwiutqccly.onion/)
Forum
(built in)
Subreddit
(https://www.reddit.com/r/EastIndiaCo /r/EastIndiaCo])
2015-04-28 ~1900 (grouped listings) Open Yes No No yes[2]
Outlaw Market
(http://outfor6jwcztwbpd.onion/)
Forum
http://outforumbpapnpqr.onion
Subreddit
-
2014-02-04 ~960 Open Yes No auto-ecryption yes[3]
Valhalla
(http://valhallaxmn3fydu.onion)
Forum
http://outforumbpapnpqr.onion
Subreddit
-
2013-10 ~2300 Open Yes yes No No

Decentralized markets

Share-alt.svg
Decentralized markets are running on a distributed filesharing-like software. A middlemen who is taking it’s cut is not needed anymore. The following table lists software projects which are in the development right now. Unless a projects reached the "stable" development status all features are to be considered as "announced" or "planned".
Name, Website, Sourcecode development status hosting anonymizing routing cryptocurrencies encrypted messaging build-in wallet anonymous transaction notes
Axis Mundi
(https://six-pack.github.io/Axis-Mundi)
Active (0.0.9) P2P/trustless brokers Tor and i2p Bitcoin Yes (PGP) Not yet Yes Written specifically to address the DNM environment. FE with feedback and full MS escrow options for purchases.
Bitmarkets
(https://voluntary.net/bitmarkets/)
(https://github.com/voluntarynet/Bitmarkets)
beta P2P TOR Bitcoin yes (Bitmessage) yes yes Uses two party escrow so no trusted third parties or escrow agents are needed.
Nxt
(http://104.236.98.130:4568/)
(https://bitbucket.org/JeanLucPicard/nxt/src)
stable? (1.5.12) Blockchain, Proof of Stake, (Nxt) TOR (optional) Nxt (+ more) yes yes  ? The marketplace is integrated in the Nxt wallet.
Nxt Freemarket
(http://104.236.98.130:4568/)
(https://bitbucket.org/blackyblack/freemarket/ CLOSED SOURCE)
stable? (1.4) Blockchain, Proof of Stake, (Nxt)  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? Nxt Freemarket is an application which builds on Nxt and provides another marketplace interface using the nxt blockchain.
Openmarket
(http://104.236.98.130:4568/)
(https://github.com/openmarket/openmarket)
alpha (dead?) P2P  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?
Open Bazaar
(https://openbazaar.org/)
(https://github.com/OpenBazaar/OpenBazaar)
Stable (1.1.7) P2P (UDP) no Bitcoin yes (GnuPG)  ?  ?  ?
Shadow Market
(http://aboutshadow.com/)
(https://github.com/SDCDev/shadowcoin)
pre-alpha Blockchain, Proof of Stake, (Shadowcash) through I2P and TOR[4] Shadowcash yes yes yes[5]  ?
Syscoin
(https://syscoin.org/)
(https://github.com/syscoin/syscoin)
beta Blockchain, Proof of Work, (Syscoin)  ? Syscoin yes yes  ?  ?

Further reading

General

Lists of darknet markets

Vendor directories and reviews

References

  1. EU only market
  2. https://www.deepdotweb.com/2015/08/09/east-india-market-hacked-30-btc-gone//
  3. http://www.deepdotweb.com/2014/08/01/outlaw-market-down-possibily-compromised/
  4. "Q&A". Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  5. "Shadowsend". Retrieved 12 June 2015.